What direction is the UMC heading?

Yesterday I posted this article from Jim Wallis on my Facebook Page.

A good friend messaged me with some concerns about the left-leaning tendencies she is beginning to see rising up within our denomination (the United Methodist Church). She asked me some pointed questions about my feelings regarding the direction that the denomination is heading. Her primary concerns have to do with abortion and homosexuality.

Here is her post

Hi Pastor Sean,

I think... I enjoyed the article that you posted ( politics ).
I have learned many things since I came to this country, and I believe that I am a Conservative Christian.

I don't believe in Abortion or same sex marriage. Although I have some gay friends! They are all soooo nice, and I really like them too..., but Marriage is for a Man and Woman....because God said so...

I also heard that the United Methodist Church is becoming liberal. One of my Baptist friend in PA was complaining about it ( she didn't know that I was Methodist ). That night... I couldn't sleep!

Is the United Methodist Church becoming liberal.... accepting abortion? accepting same sex marriage?

I have more... to say, but... I will stop here~

I just don't believe that Jesus was liberal...That's all...

Thanks for reading.

PS. _______ was adopted when he was a baby. When I met _______, he told me that he was so thankful that his Birth Mom didn't abort him.... tears... I am thankful too!!! : )

Here is my response to her


Thank you for your message.

The United Methodist Church is a both/and denomination rather than either/or. The founders of our denomination firmly believed in a Christianity both personal and social. Most of my UMC clergy colleagues are theologically conservative (I am) and socially progressive (I am). By that I mean that we believe in the foundational principles of our Christian faith (the Bible, the creeds etc.) but we also acknowledge the value of all human beings and the need to express love, grace, and mercy at all times while fighting for justice and peace everywhere.

I do believe that there is a more "liberal" wing within our denomination that is more theologically liberal and is pushing our denominational leaders to amend some of our laws, specifically with regard to abortion and homosexuality. These issues will come up at our General Conference in April and we will see if the liberal agenda has enough power this time around to make changes.

As of now, this is where the UMC stands on abortion and this is where the UMC stands on homosexuality. Notice that the denomination continues to hold a conservative/traditional view on both of these issues.

I do not think that our denomination will make changes to the Discipline regarding these two issues. However, if they do, I know that there will be many pastors who will need to decide whether they will stay with the denomination (this is what happened in the Episcopal Church recently after they decided to begin marrying and ordaining practicing homosexuals).

I personally feel that our job is to love everyone (I John 4.7-8) and to trust that God will reveal his will to them regarding their lifestyle choices etc. He can forgive any sin, and desires to do just that.

I think in the end, regardless of where we land on some of these controversial issues, we will see each other in heaven if we have professed faith in Christ and have sought to serve God by loving God and loving others.

Only then will we find out who was really right ... and by that point it's not going to matter anyhow


  1. I think I understand what you are saying but may be not. When we accept Jesus as our savior we are expected to turn from sin in our lives and be Christ like (Gal 2:20) It seems as if we water down the gospel if we tell people that certain sins mentioned in the Bible are ok and others are not. Jesus said all are welcome and he also said go and sin no more. I agree that the UMC should include all people but placing people in leadership positions that are struggling with things that are contrary to God's law is asking for disaster. Look at some of the famous preachers that gave in to lust and committed adultry, would every think been ok if they said that God made them that way. Sin is still sin even if you believe God made you that way. I know this for a fact because I struggle with some sin in my life that I just can't get a handle on but I know that God's best for me is to deny myself and follow him.
    Just my 2 cents
    Terry Brown

  2. This is a very tough subject for me to even talk about because I feel it is very important for us as Christians to live our lives worthy of the Lord and do all we can to avoid sin in our lives. But I feel our greatest responsibility when it comes to people who have chosen lifestyles that are not in line with our understanding of God's Word, is to LOVE them the way Christ loves them. He related to sinners while they were yet sinners. Just like He did with us and continues to do with us because not one of us is righteous, NOT ONE (according to God's Word). I do believe anyone in Christian leadership should be purposed in his/her heart to live in a way that is pleasing to God. But I also know that there are people in Christian leadership who's hearts are so full of religious deception and so far from Christ's Heart, but because thier lives on the surface appear to be in agreement with God's word, we allow them to stand in places of leadership in the church. I beleive that is incredibly hypocritical and is one of the reasons so many people who are far from God are content to be so. If we, as Christian individuals, can find a way to look at even every person we meet through the eyes of Christ and invite them into our lives, love them, relate to them with out fear or judgement, and commit ourselves to reveal the love of the Father to them, we will see countless numbers of people willing to put HIM first and let go of all of the things God convicts them of. But that is between them and God. Sandra Peters

    1. The love that Jesus gives to us is not free-it cost him his life given for us on the cross. In John 8:10-11 Jesus is speaking to a woman caught in adultry. He loved her where she was and did not condem her actions but He told her in verse 11 to go and don't sin again. The statement wasn't that Jesus expected her to be perfect but Jesus wanted to see true repentance in her life. True forgiveness requires true repentance as Christ stated in the Lords prayer. I believe that the true church should be open to everybody no questions, no restrictions but after they are saved there must be something they can base moral and spirital values on, which I believe is God's word. I am reminded of Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. We as Christians should strive for God's best in our lives. I can't find in the Bible where sin is justified. I am tring my best to understand the liberal/progressive approach to the gospel but so far it escapes my understanding. Thank you for having the courage to respond to me because most Christians don't have the courage to stand up for what they believe.
      Terry Brown

  3. Terry,

    Progressive Christians do not justify sin. Far too many people believe, wrongly, that progressive Christians are relativists and water down the gospel. I have wrestled with my theological position for years and find myself landing in the progressive camp for a couple of reasons:

    1. Conservative Christianity tends to overemphasize personal holiness, repentance and eternal life (all important and biblical concepts) but neglect social holiness, grace, and justice (all equally important and biblical concepts). Jesus called his followers to "desire mercy over sacrifice." (Matt 9.13, Hos. 6.6)This means (for me) that Jesus is much more interested in our willingness to love and care for those less fortunate (mercy/grace) than he is in our need to fix people or point out their sin (sacrifice/law)

    2. Conservative Christianity tends to see the world (spiritually, politically, socially etc.) in black and white; whereas progressive Christians tend to live in the grey areas of life and embrace mystery, uncertainty, and paradox. This kind of thinking seems to make some Christians uneasy (our modern worldview demands that we proclaim certainty) Unfortunately, we only "know in part" (I Cor. 13.12)and our thoughts are not his thoughts or our ways his ways (Is. 55.8).

    I absolutely agree with you that transformation needs to occur in the life of the believer, but I am convinced that transformation is the job of the Holy Spirit. Jesus forgave the sins of the adulteress, he forgave the sins of many people, but his command to us is to love. Most of us who acknowledge our sin and brokenness do not need anyone telling us that we are sinful and broken; we know it. What we need is someone to come alongside us, love us unconditionally, refuse to judge or condemn us, and offer us salvation and transformation through Jesus who died for all.

    An author/pastor who has really helped me understand where I stand theologically is Tony Campolo (http://www.redletterchristians.org/)His book "Red letter Christians" might be helpful if you want to explore the issue of progressive Christianity further. I also suggest sojourners (http://www.sojo.net) and the work of Brian McLaren (http://www.brianmclaren.net)

  4. Another good resource that I would recommend is Ron Sider's book "Churches That Make A Difference: Reaching Your Community with Good News and Good Works." http://www.amazon.com/Churches-That-Make-Difference-Community/dp/0801091330/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327507952&sr=1-1


Post a Comment

Popular Posts